The Mysterium by Paul Doherty (Sir Hugh Corbett: Book 17)

I have read Paul Doherty before, when he wrote as P C Doherty. I found his stories quite enjoyable as at the time I was reading a lot of Agatha Christie's work and would also readily watch as Poirot gathered all his suspects together to reveal the real murderer. Another reason why I enjoyed Doherty's books was because of the time in which they were set. Doherty laces his world with much medieval colour, allowing us to understand the world in which Corbett has to work. Corbett, a clerk in medieval times, is no quill scraper. He works closely with the King (Edward I) and has fought in the King's wars. Action is never far away for the old soldier and his very able assistant, Ranulf-atte-Newgate.

The murder mystery itself, and its investigation is standard, however the background detail to which Doherty gives the medieval world is rich and evocative. Set in London, it shows the grotty and crime riddled slums as well as the hypocrisy of the merchant classes. Sir Hugh Corbett is Keeper of the Secret Seal under Edward I, he works in a very methodical way; he is a fair man but firm. His position means that he can summon suspects by law to answer his questions. He is aided in his duty by Ranulf-atte-Newgate, a youth who would have followed a more nefarious path had not Sir Hugh rescued him from Newgate prison. He is therefore unfailingly loyal to Sir Hugh.

With Corbett being an ex soldier and Ranulf an ex convict they are able to execute a few action pieces quite well. Sir Hugh's passion for getting at the truth is what makes him a bit of an idealist and sometimes the conclusions to his cases are not always what the King wants to hear. Ranulf is a darker horse than his master, however his character is more interesting than Corbett and it would be interesting to read of an adventure where Ranulf goes solo. Would he make a mess of it without the wiser Corbett to restrain some of his more passionate reactions? Or would he be successful, like Lewis without Morse?

All in all the book was enjoyable; if your usual ITV1 kind of fare. If you too enjoy your Agatha Christie mysteries then you will undoubtedly enjoy this, I give this book a 7 out of 10.

7/10 All in all the book was enjoyable; if your usual ITV1 kind of fare.

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